"My Brooklyn" documentary tackles Downtown Brooklyn rezoning, gentrification; week of screenings begins tonight
It will screen for a week beginning tonight at reRun Theater in DUMBO, with a special guest each night (tickets).
My Brooklyn trailer from Kelly Anderson on Vimeo.
The city encourages luxury residential development through subsidies to developers that are unnecessary in a hot real estate market like Downtown Brooklyn's. Residential subsidies totalled more than $200 million in 2011 alone, and they will continue for 10-25 years! This is money that could be distributed in ways that could benefit a wide cross-section of Brooklynites instead of just giving the most affluent residents a gigantic break on their real estate taxes.
Dean worked on a March 2005 Pratt Center for Community Development study of the Fulton Mall, which described a social divide between those who shop at the mall and those who live nearby:
This divide appears to be based as much on economic class as on race, as we frequently heard non-users criticize the merchandise at the Mall, saying it was “cheap” or “ghetto.” Interestingly, young African-Americans also used the term “ghetto” to describe the merchandise, but when probed they explained that they meant this as a compliment.The Pratt study recommended improvements in the mall appearance, a mix of uses in the old buildings, an improved public realm for visitors, an effort to "promote and enhance the current retail themes," and to engage a broad and diverse group of stakeholders.
Not all of that happened. Why does it matter that poorer black residents feel a loss? Because as historian Craig Wilder explains in the film, public policy has long disadvantaged black Brooklynites.
Also see the July 2007 report, Downtown Brooklyn’s Detour: The Unanticipated Impacts of Rezoning and Development on Residents and Businesses, prepared by the Pratt Center for FUREE (Families United for Racial and Economic Equality). FUREE worked with Anderson and Dean on the film.
Behind all this is demographic change. The New York Times reported last May:
Brooklyn, which accounted for 49,000 of the city’s 100,000 loss in black residents, experienced its own version of suburbanization as blacks moved from the borough’s densely populated center to the fringes in Canarsie and East New York.The Daily News reported:
Blacks were replaced by younger non-Hispanic whites — in the Bedford portion of Bedford-Stuyvesant, the white share of the population soared, from 4 percent to 26 percent — and to a lesser extent by Hispanic and Asian New Yorkers along a corridor flanking the L subway line. Brooklyn gained white, Hispanic and Asian residents.
A surge in the number of black residents has made East New York one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in Brooklyn, even as the black population across the borough and citywide fell dramatically.And how about this, from the Daily News last May: I scream, you scream: Prospect Heights’ pricey ice cream battle: Waits up to 30 minutes for $4.49 ice cream cone attracting nabe newcomers:
The black population increased by 13% in East New York from 2000 to 2010, according to a new analysis of census data by the Department of City Planning - absorbing many residents who were priced out of other neighborhoods as the borough’s black population fell by 6%.
Moving out of neighborhoods like Bedford Stuyvesant, some black residents left the city altogether, decamping for the suburbs or the South - but many of those who stayed in the borough ended up in East New York.
A pricey foodie ice cream wave has hit Prospect Heights with competing shops taking advantage of the once-gritty neighborhood’s rapid transformation into Brooklyn’s latest family utopia.
Hot weather crowds are packing into the stores where customers can wait up to 30 minutes for scoops of the highbrow organic and handmade treats that cost as much as $4.49 for a small single cone.
The confection craze is a reflection of the area’s change: Prospect Heights’ population of whites under the age of 18 doubled from 2000 to 2010, while the number of young blacks shrank by half, U.S. Census data shows.